Monday, August 3, 2015

Voter ID - it's back

Voter ID - it's back



For those who may have thought the fight over Pennsylvania's voter ID law was over, think again.

Tomorrow morning in Commonwealth Court, the next steps could be decided in the legal battle over Pennsylvania's new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

The law passed the GOP-controlled legislature last spring, and was promptly signed into law by Gov. Corbett, a Republican. Since then, it's been the subject of a long - and, at times, nasty - legal fight, with the ACLU and other attorneys for plaintiffs in the case arguing that it will disenfranchise voters, particularly the young, the poor and the elderly. They have also argued that the free ID cards the state was offering through PennDot were laden with bureaucratic landmines, and required voters to produce official documents that many could not obtain.

In early October, with just weeks to the presidential election, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. agreed to temporarily block the law from going into effect - but the injunction only covered the presidential election. Simpson left the law intact, and so it will apply to elections going forward.

The ACLU and other attorneys in the case have sent strong signals that they intend to continue fighting to overturn the law for future elections as well.

In the interim, the state continues to pump out photo identification cards for voting purposes. From the time the law was passed in March until Oct. 2, when Simpson issued the partial injunction, the state had issued 12,925 IDs. Of those, 10,751 were the non-driving PennDot photo IDs, and the remainder were the voting-only Department of State IDs, according to PennDot data.

And even after the injunction, voters kept on coming for photo IDs: from Oct. 2 to December 7, the state has issued 3,266 such IDs, of which 1,835 were non-driving PennDot cards.


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About this blog

Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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